CGB Review of The Disaster Artist (2017)

Oh hai Mark!

Guys and gals, after a two-month absence, I’m back!

This is my review of The Disaster Artist!

the-disaster-artist-james-franco-movieBased on the book “The Disaster Artist,” the making of “The Room” is chronicled through the tumultuous friendship between Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) and Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) as they meet in an acting class, form a bond and travel to LA together to prove all the naysayers wrong.  The end result is “The Room,” a film both infamously terrible and an instant classic.  Before I go on, yes, I have seen The Room and will be reviewing it soon.

The Hits
The heart of the story is the relationship between Wiseau and Sestero, mostly shown through Sestero’s perspective.  Experiencing Wiseau’s strange nature through Sestero’s eyes was a smart choice since it balances out the weirdness of the story.  Speaking of Tommy Wiseau, James Franco’s performance is amazing!  The accuracy and attention to detail is noteworthy.  Everything from the off-putting accent to the hair, his mannerisms; James Franco transforms into Tommy Wiseau.  I appreciate how the film never makes Wiseau into a joke, rather it humanizes him and works around his eccentricities, preventing him from coming off as a caricature.  As for Dave Franco, while his performance isn’t anything remarkable, he is the grounded and sensible friend who keeps Wiseau’s oddities in check.  The fact that brothers James and Dave Franco star as Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero heightens the chemistry between the protagonists, making their relationship believable and natural.
Having never read “The Disaster Artist” book, I didn’t realize until halfway through the film how one-sided and toxic Wiseau and Sestero’s relationship is.  He doesn’t try to break up Sestero and his new girlfriend, but his disapproval of the romance is loud and clear.  His mistreatment of the cast and crew of “The Room” is not sugarcoated at all; we see him humiliate Juliette Danielle during the awkward sex scene by pointing out a zit on her shoulder, he refuses to turn on the air conditioning, causing a cast member to faint and getting into shouting matches with the cameraman and producer.  Wiseau himself could range between codependent and emotionally abusive, but both James Franco’s performance and the film make it very clear that he only has the propensity for being difficult and not abusive by intent.  Due to minimal emotional intelligence and a lack of social skills, Wiseau is portrayed as a man who does have a good heart, but chooses self over others more often than not.
The big question with this movie is does it work on its own in spite of “The Room” being the backdrop?  As someone who has seen the original “The Room,” but is not a mega-fan, I say YES!  The first hour is an underdog story that humanizes the relationship between Wiseau and Sestero, while the second hour continues to develop their troubled friendship all while successfully recreating iconic scenes from “The Room.”  The underdog aspect of the story remains front and center even as the making-of comes into play.

The Misses
Honestly my only complaint would be that the third act feels somewhat rushed.  SPOILER: So Sestero and Wiseau have a big confrontation and then Sestero walks off the set of “The Room.”  One fade to black later, Sestero looks up while driving and sees a movie poster for “The Room.”  Sestero and Wiseau meet again (after an unspecified amount of time) and they make up pretty quickly.  Given how much Wiseau has taken advantage of him, I kind of wish we had see Sestero resist forgiving Wiseau, even just a brief look of consternation on his face before realizing what brought him and Wiseau together in the first place.  Granted, having never read the book, I don’t know if this is how it happens in the novel, but it felt very rushed to me.

Verdict
Guys and gals, The Disaster Artist is anything but a disaster.  This is a fantastic biopic of how the best-worst movie of all time came to be.  A well-crafted script, an endearing love for “The Room” permeating from every actor involve, and the chemistry between James and Dave Franco bring Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero to life, enabling we the audience to empathize with their wild journey towards turning a crazy dream into a cult classic reality.

Saint John Bosco, pray for us.

CGB Review of The LEGO Movie (2014)

There’s no other way to begin this review except by saying…

EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!  😀

This is my review of The LEGO Movie!

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Emmet (Chris Pratt) is just your average, ordinary…LEGO person or piece or whatever you call him.  Anyway, Emmet lives a pretty unremarkable life as a construction worker amidst a sea of yellow faces.  When a strange piece called “the piece of resistance” gets stuck on Emmet’s back, he is whisked away by oddball characters such as a pretty tough gal named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and the prophet Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) on a mission to stop the evil Lord Business from freezing the entire LEGO world using the Kragle.

This plot is so ridiculous and nonsensical, which is why I love it so much!

The Hits
This movie is so gosh darn creative!  I was laughing so hard when I saw that the lava in the opening scene is made of red LEGOS!  I love how even the water is made of blue LEGOS.  The animation is truly something to behold.  Rich colors, smooth movements, excellent camerawork, the level of detail is astonishing and you can tell that a lot of thought and precision went into making everything just right.
For being a boring everyman…LEGO…being thingamajig, Emmet is a pretty endearing character.  They don’t make him clumsy or any other everyman (or everywoman) character trope, but they don’t give him special powers or any quality that would make him stand out.  He’s just a bland, likable guy with a kind heart (and a face of yellow) who ends up truly being the hero that the city needs.  Wyldstyle is pretty funny and with Vitruvius, you can tell that Morgan Freeman is trying so hard not to laugh with each line of dialogue he says.  Also Will Arnett’s Batman had me rolling on the floor laughing.  Batman sure does bruit a lot, doesn’t he?  I know that’s one of his signature qualities, but seen in a satirical form really does put perspective on it.
This is the kind of movie that should not have worked, but makes itself work with awesome results.  What makes this ridiculous concept work is its self-awareness.  The script knows that it is a laughable idea and, instead of trying to make itself more epic than it actually is, it embraces the nonsense and comedic possibilities.  Self-important prophecies, the chosen one narrative and pop culture are satirized to great effect.  The voice actors do a great job at taking things seriously when it is needed, but they aren’t like characters in a Christopher Nolan film where EVERY. SINGLE. LINE. OF. DIALOGUE is treated as the most important thing ever said.  The tongue-in-cheek quality is why this movie is so hilarious and a real blast to watch!

The Misses
The action is so fast-paced that it is hard to see at times.  Viewers with sensitive eyes or who are prone to getting headaches from watching fast motion with neon colors might want to close their eyes during the action sequences.

Everything is awesome with the LEGO Movie!  This surprise hit from 2014 is a brilliantly animated gem that both kids and adults can enjoy.  Top-notch animation, an impressive cast, charming characters, and a clever use of satire and cheeky humor all culminates to the LEGO Movie being…just so darn…AWESOME!  😀

Saint Isidore the Farmer, pray for us.

CGB Review of Moana (2016)

Why do I get the feeling that this movie was written by someone who read the Book of Esther during a weekend on a Polynesian island?

This is my review of Moana!

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In the beginning, there was the Word…and that word was ocean!   Then comes the goddess Te Fiti who, with the power of her swirly heart (there’s a swirly circle where her heart is), creates island and island and so on.  Te Fiti then goes into a slumber, manifesting herself as a lush, green island.  All is cool until the demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson) quite literally steals her heart, which has taken the form of a jade gemstone.  His theft unleashes a freaky sea demon called Te Ka and basically, like the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve’s screw-up, the world falls into darkness because Maui just had to steal the heart of Te Fiti.
Enter the island of Motunui, which is home to a free-spirited girl named Moana (Auli’i Cravalho).  Moana is being groomed by her father Chief Tui to become the next leader of Motunui, but the call of the ocean has a strong pull on her heart.  This primarily has to do with an encounter she had with the ocean as a toddler.  When Motunui begins to experience decay and famine, Grandma Tala reveals to her that the ocean chose her [Moana] to find the demi-god Maui and guide him across the sea to face off against Te Ka and return the heart of Te Fiti to its rightful place.

The Hits
The animation is fluid, colorful and gorgeous to look at.  The voice work is awesome!  Never once was I distracted by the celebrity voices because all of the characters are well-written and distinctive.  Auli’i Cravalho definitely brings Moana to life as both a youthful teenager and a kind-hearted young woman.  She doesn’t sound like a late-twentysomething voicing a sixteen-year old, neither does she sound jarringly young; her character’s age is conveyed by Cravalho’s performance.  I really love Moana’s childhood connection to the ocean.  Granted, it does make this a typical “chosen one” narrative, but Moana herself doesn’t have any magic powers or some random birthmark that displays her chosen-one-ness; she’s a regular girl who was called upon by the ocean.  Now I mentioned that this movie made me think of the Book of Esther.  That’s because Moana is next in line to rule a land and must save her people from dark destruction.  While she doesn’t have to marry a king like Esther did, she does have to find the king-like Maui and take him to Te Ka.
Speaking of the ocean, the idea of having it as a sentient being is fantastic!  They don’t push the envelope too far by making the ocean a god or something, but the ocean does act similarly to the Holy Spirit; calling upon Moana to go out, to leave her comfort zone and sail into the unknown for a greater purpose.  The ocean reminded me of Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Now, mind you, Moana doesn’t travel to Judea or Samaria, neither does the ocean give her the ability to speak in tongues or prophecy, but the ocean’s influence and friendship gives her great courage, helps her to find peace in the chaos, and does enable her to travel far to take Maui to defeat a volcanic sea demon in order to restore peace to the other islands, which brings to mind the Apostles being empowered by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to preach the Gospel and open wounded hearts to Jesus.
Moana’s pet pig Pua reminded me of a puppy, which makes him adorable, but her chicken Heihei is to this movie what Kowalski is to Fantastic Beasts; a show-stealing comic relief.
Dwayne Johnson is perfectly cast as Maui!   You can tell that he is having the time of his life voicing the character and we are having fun alongside him.  Maui is your typical “self-centered powerful dude who needs to be knocked off his high-horse,” but his humor and soft-spot for humans does keep him from being unlikable.

The Misses
Yeah, this movie gets pretty predictable towards the third act.  I pretty much was able to correct predict all the actions of the main characters in the film’s climax.  I like this movie a lot, but you can tell that there is a Disney checklist that the filmmakers need to fill (princess, comedic animal sidekick, songs, etc.) and it’s not hard to see where the story is going.

Guys and gals, I really enjoyed Moana!  It’s a charming, delightful action-comedy that the whole family will love.  Fun lead characters, thrilling action and some intriguing (if not unintentional) Biblical parallels make Moana an end-of-the-year slamdunk.  I’ve already seen it twice and I just might see it again for a third time.

Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, pray for us.

CGB Review of The BFG (2016)

Previously on Catholic Girl Bloggin’…

(Hears noise downstairs) Hello?  (No answer) Huh, well what could that be?  (Looks at Ghostbusters review) My final thoughts can wait.  (Goes downstairs) (Sees a ghost in the kitchen)
ME: What the hey?
GHOST: I am the ghost of kitchen’s past!
ME: You mean, you’re the ghost of what this kitchen used to look like before we remodeled?
GHOST: (Looks confused) Yeah, sure.  Anyway, where is your proton pack now, mere mortal?
ME: I don’t know about proton packs, but I have this.  (Pulls holy water out of the cupboard and flings it at the ghost) In the Name of Jesus, leave my kitchen, jerkface!
GHOST: You fiend!
ME: Give your dark master my regards.  Oh, and LEAVE!  (throws more holy water furiously)
GHOST: AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH, I’M MELTING!!!!  (Writhes in agony and dissolves into a puddle of ooze)

One hour later…

(Mops up ghost-ooze) This is gonna take forever to get rid of entirely. (feels earth rumble) Oh, what now?!  (Looks out window and sees a gigantic shadow) What am I looking at?  (Enormous shadow becomes a roaring giant) (Giant approaches window)  AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!  (Tries to run, but trips)  Who are you?
GIANT: I am the BRG!
ME: BRG?
GIANT: Big Random Giant!
ME: So you’re not a grandfatherly CGI giant voiced by Oscar winner Mark Rylance?
BRG: Rawr rawr rawr!  (Grabs me and hoists me into burlap bag)
ME: (Trying to keep balance inside burlap bag) Well, while I try to find a way out of here (looking through small rip in bag and sees how high up I am) without falling to my death, I guess I could pass time with a review.

This is my review of The BFG!

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Based on the 1982 novel by Roald Dahl, the BFG tells the story of Sophie, an orphaned girl who is taken one night by a kindly giant who she nicknames “BFG” to Giant Country.  At first Sophie demands that BFG take her back to the orphanage, but soon starts to form a bond with him once she sees the danger he puts himself in to protect her from the other man-eating giants that populate Giant Country.  Over time, Sophie and BFG form an unbreakable bond over BFG’s work as a catcher of dreams (and I do mean that literally).  When the threat of the bloodthirsty giants invading the human world looms large, it’s up to Sophie and BFG to put a stop to their plans and save all of humanity.

ME: Hey, BRG, can you slow down so that I’m not getting tossed around like a sack of potatoes?!
BRG: Okay, here we are!
ME: (Looks out through hole in the bag) (Sees a CGI fantasy world) Well, I’m gonna have a heck of a time getting out of this parallel dimension.

The Hits
The first two acts of this movie are truly magical.  If there’s one thing Steven Spielberg is really good at, it’s capturing a sense of wonder and awe with the in-movie universe he creates.  He makes Giant Country an awe-inspiring place, brimming with adventure.
The bond between Sophie and BFG is absolutely charming.  There is a grandparent-grandchild quality to it that makes it wonderful to watch.  Ruby Barnhill is excellent as Sophie.  She is precocious without being annoying, both innocent and intelligent, and make Sophie an empathetic character to follow.
Even though I fell asleep during his last flick Bridge of Spies, Mark Rylance kept my attention during that movie and he is just as interesting to watch once again.  His warmth and protectiveness of Sophie is believable, and the motion capture of his character is quite impressive.  I like how the BFG resembles Mark Rylance without being designed as an exact replica of him; it allows him to disappear into the role and become the character, making you forget that you’re watching an actor play a part.
I love how the dream world that the BFG travels to in order to catch dreams is similar to the spiritual realm.  In my latest editorial, Truth Within A Tagline, I talked about how within our reality is a spiritual world where angels and demons reside, fighting great battles for our souls.  Here’s the link if you missed it: https://catholicgirlbloggin.net/2016/07/01/truth-within-a-tagline/
Anyway, BFG describes the dream world to Sophie as being a secret inner world that contains the most beautiful dreams and the most brutal nightmares; coincidently, this is exactly what the spiritual realm is: A hidden world that holds marvelous angels and horrific demons.  Anyone who happens to have the charism of discernment of spirits will most certainly appreciate the BFG’s dream world.

The Misses
The villains in this movie are pretty underwhelming.  The problem is that despite their intimidating size, they are too dim-witted and one-dimensional to be considered threatening.
I said that the first two acts of the film are magical…the last half is not.  For a movie about a friendly giant who has to protect a little human from the other cannibalistic giants, the plot is surprisingly aimless.  Granted, I don’t mind an aimless plot so long as the story doesn’t linger at too many parts.  Unfortunately the BFG does pad itself out with some filler in the second and third act.  I am sad to say that the story does get boring at times and I did find myself checking my phone.
I get that this is a kids’ film, but some of the jokes in the movie are a tad too childish.  There are one or two gross-out gags that just didn’t work.  Also the climax is pretty anticlimactic.  The whole “involving-the-queen-of-England” thing felt shoehorned; I wish the BFG character had magic powers or that Sophie had found a magical item that could help the two of them defeat the other giants.

ME: (Sees other giants approaching) I gotta get outta here! (Searches through BRG’s burlap sack)
MYSTERIOUS VOICE: Catholic Girl Bloggin’…
ME: Who is that?  (turns around and sees an angel) Whoa!
GUARDIAN ANGEL: I am your guardian angel, CGB.
ME: You’re…my guardian angel?  (Lets it sink in) This is so cool!  Hey, how come you’re wearing a mask?
GUARDIAN ANGEL: My light would blind you.
ME: (sees two katanas attached to GUARDIAN ANGEL’S sheaths) And what’s with the katanas?  (Realizes that GUARDIAN ANGEL bears a resembles to a particular superhero) So my guardian angel is Deadpool?  Right on!
GUARDIAN ANGEL: (Shrugs) Sure, just minus the crass humor.  (Hands me a spare katana)
ME: Hey, how come I get one katana and you get two?
GUARDIAN ANGEL: (Raises wings) Because one is all you need.
ME: So how do we get out of here?
GUARDIAN ANGEL: Finish the review.  Leave the giants to me.

Okay, so while I cut my way out of a giant’s burlap sack with a katana–what an odd sentence to say aloud–I guess I can give my closing thoughts.
Overall, while I didn’t love the BFG as much as I wanted to, I did like it.  The bond between the two lead characters will warm your heart, the dream world is beautifully designed and there are great messages about loyalty and friendship.  Young kids who see this movie will definitely love it while adults may find themselves pleasantly surprised.  The BFG is fun and entertaining for the whole family to enjoy.

(Outside, GUARDIAN ANGEL swings his katanas and blinds the giants with cords of light shooting out from his wings)
GUARDIAN ANGEL: CGB, cut a hole at the bottom of the bag!
ME: But I’ll fall!
GUARDIAN ANGEL: Just trust me!
ME: (Takes deep breath and slices a large hole into the bag) (Begins to fall) AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!  (Eyes shut) (Suddenly feels a mattress against my back) (Opens eyes and am back in my bedroom) Oh, come on!  Don’t tell me it was all just a dream!  (Looks and sees katana leaning against my desk) Huh, I guess it wasn’t.
AMANDA WALLER: Are you Catholic Girl Bloggin’?
ME: (Turns around and sees AMANDA WALLER) Um, yes?  Wait a minute, aren’t you a Suicide Squad character?
AMANDA WALLER: Yes.
ME: Well, I won’t be reviewing that until August.
AMANDA WALLER: (Sees katana) I want to assemble a new taskforce, one entirely of bloggers.  Would you kindly come with me, CGB?
ME: (Swallows) Uh oh…

(Fade to black)

Blessed Imelda Lambertini, pray for us.

CGB Review of Ghostbusters (2016)

Who you gonna call?!
Well, personally, I’d call an exorcist, but you can go ahead and call the Ghostbusters.

This is my review of Ghostbusters!

ghostbusters-2016-movie-cast

Some years back, Dr. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and her friend Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) wrote a book about the paranormal.  When the book ended up becoming unpopular, Erin buried herself in her work at Columbia University and essentially abandoned Abby.  However, when ghost sightings become more and more commonplace, Erin and Abby are thrown back into the world of paranormal activity and bring an engineer named Jillian Holtzmann and a train station worker named Patty along for the ride.

Before I say anything else, I’m going to get this out of the way: You’re not a sexist if you don’t like this movie and you’re not a disgrace to the original Ghostbusters film if you do enjoy this flick.
With that out of the way, onward with the review!

The Hits
Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy do play off of each other very well.  In all fairness, I did chuckle a few times throughout because there were some good jokes and sight-gags.  Leslie Jones was surprisingly grounded and relatable to where I kind of wish she was the main POV character instead of Kristen Wiig.
[KIND OF A SPOILER] I did appreciate that Kristen Wiig’s character gets an interesting backstory of being visited by a ghost as a child.  I was hoping that this aspect of her character would come into play somehow, like have her get a flashback of it while she is fighting a ghost and then use the flashback to motivate her to persevere in courage instead of remaining a doormat.  Sadly, this doesn’t happen, but I will give credit for attempting a character arch.

The Misses
This movie has many structural issues.  Sequences happen without any build-up or significance.  For instance, one scene shows the women struggling to work their proton containment laser, but then just two scenes later, they’re using those guns with next to no issues.  Another example: When we are first introduced to Dr. Erin Gilbert, she is seeing preparing for her class when she is confronted by a reader of the book she and Abby wrote.  She keeps telling the gentleman, “I have a class in a few minutes” only to immediately go to her office and then head straight for Abby Yates’ workplace.  The funny thing is this could’ve been easily fixed had she been approached by the reader while in the middle of teaching, but nope.  We just never see her teach.
Apparently character archetypes that are normally fairly simple to write are a challenge for this movie…
Exhibit A: Kate McKinnon–what the heck were you doing?  Who was Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon’s character) supposed to be?   If you’ve ever wondered how NOT to write a quirky character, just endure Jillian Holtzmann’s forced weirdness.  It really isn’t that hard to create an offbeat character; you just have to focus on what makes them a person who happens to be quirky, not a person overtaken entirely by quirks.
Exhibit B: Chris Hemsworth, you are a stunningly handsome man, but no one is that stupid.  I’m talking about his character, the inept secretary Kevin.  Had his character been a teenage boy, his dimwitted nature would’ve been understandable, but as it stands, he is way too old to be this incompetent.   Again, dense characters are relatively easy to develop: Just have them do dumb things out of sincere goodness, i.e. make them childlike, not childish.
The villain–oh, what’s his name–Rowan?–is probably the most half-baked, underwhelming villain since the dark elf antagonist from Thor: The Dark World.  He just shows up because–potatoes–and wants to destroy the world because the script demands it.  Even Darren Cross from Ant Man had more development than this guy!  Honestly, I’m running out of things to say about what’s-his-name.

(Hears noise downstairs) Hello?  (No answer) Huh, well what could that be?  (Looks at review) My final thoughts can wait.  (Goes downstairs) (Sees a ghost in the kitchen)
ME: What the hey?
GHOST: I am the ghost of kitchen’s past!
ME: You mean, you’re the ghost of what this kitchen used to look like before we remodeled?
GHOST: (Looks confused) Yeah, sure.  Anyway, where is your proton pack now, mere mortal?
ME: I don’t know about proton packs, but I have this.  (Pulls holy water out of the cupboard and flings it at the ghost) In the Name of Jesus, leave my kitchen, jerkface!
GHOST: You fiend!
ME: Give your dark master my regards.  Oh, and LEAVE!  (throws more holy water furiously)
GHOST: AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH, I’M MELTING!!!!  (Writhes in agony and dissolves into a puddle of ooze)
ME: (puts holy water back in cupboard) I don’t think they sell special ghost-ooze mops at Walmart.  Oh, well, I’ll clean this up later, but first, time to finish the review.

(Returns to bedroom) And now, my closing thoughts:
Where Batman v. Superman had me looking up at the ceiling and asking God to strike me with lighting so I wouldn’t have to watch anymore (a request that He denied, as you can tell), Ghostbusters didn’t add or subtract from my will to live.  At the same time, it sure isn’t worth the full price of admission, either.  The characters are grossly underwritten, the plot loses all sensibility as it goes on and its only connection to the original Ghostbusters is via half-hearted cameos and shoehorned references.  If you really want to spend time at the movies, just go see Finding Dory again or even The Shallows.  As for this, Ghostbusters (2016) is a rental, not a must-see.

Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us.

CGB Review of Zootopia (2016)

There’s a new sheriff in town and she’s a bunny!
No, seriously, the main character is a bunny cop named Judy Hopps.

This is my review of Zootopia!

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Judy Hopps, an optimistic rabbit from the rural town of Bunnyburrow, is the first “bunny cop” in the history of Zootopia.  Despite this, her first assignment is parking duty.  However, when an opportunity arises to solve a missing person–er, I mean–otter case (because the resident she is looking for is Emmett Otterton), Judy teams up with a con artist fox named Nicholas “Nick” Wilde and the two form an unlikely friendship as they attempt to find Mr. Otterton and save the day.

The Hits
The jokes are knee-slapping hilarious!  There’s one scene where Chief Bogo says, “We have an elephant in the room.”  He then turns to an elephant character and says, “Francine, happy birthday.”  There is also a really funny scene at the DMV, which is run entirely by sloths.  Yes, it is as relatable and hysterical as you would imagine.
I love Judy Hopps!  Determined, spirited and strong-willed, she is instantly likable.  I appreciate how the script doesn’t make her the cliché “strong, independent female who doesn’t need help from anyone.” She is actually a fleshed-out character who is capable of taking care of herself while also allowing others to give her a hand.
The heart of the story is the relationship between Judy and Nick.  I think Saint Pope John Paul II, who had much to say about holy friendship, would be quite pleased with this duo.  Judy and Nick compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  Judy confronts the criminals who have a grudge against Nick and Nick steps in as Judy’s advocate any time she gets tongue-tied.  I love how they come to value each other as the film progresses.  There’s one sequence where Judy injures her leg.  “I can’t walk,” she says.  Nick picks up her and says, “I gotcha” as he takes her to a hiding spot.  In this particular moment, the gentle hushed tone of his voice conveys his concern and respect for Judy.  Little details like this are worth commending.
This movie tackles timely issues and does so beautifully.  I like how the film has a balanced message that while there are people who do fit the stereotypes of their group, to paint an entire segment of the population with one brush is wrong.  It depicts the unfortunate consequences of labeling a particular group of people.  The movie does have some dark moments.  However, these moments are handled with tact and grace so that children can feel the severity, but still enjoy the film.

The Misses
As much as I love Judy Hopps, I feel that she is a tad too similar to Anna from Frozen.  Granted, I love Anna, but that doesn’t mean I want to see the same character over and over.  To be fair, Judy’s character arch is different than Anna’s, but their personalities are eerily identical.
There actually is an elephant in the room: So Zootopia is depicted as having different sections of the city: There’s the Rainforest District, Sahara Square, Tundratown and so on.  This is one city with differing weather climates happening at the same time.
This raises a question in my mind: Where exactly is Zootopia?  Is it on earth?   When Judy is taking the train from Bunnyburrow to Zootopia, is she crossing dimensions?  Also, whatever happened to the humans?   While I’m glad that the movie doesn’t rely heavily on expositional spiels, there are some unanswered questions about the mechanics of this world.

Zootopia is another homerun from Disney!  Lovable characters, ingenious world-building and a mature handling of current issues makes this one of the best movies of 2016.

Saint Pope John Paul II, pray for us.

CGB Review of Zoolander 2 (2016)

I feel like I lost a few IQ points.  I kind of need those to review movies.

This is my review of Zoolander 2!

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Two days after the events of the first Zoolander, the Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good And Want To Learn To Do Other Things Good (try saying that ten times fast) collapsed and killed Derek’s wife Matilda Jeffries-Zoolander, as well as disfigured Hansel’s face.  In addition, a damning video of Zoolander being unable to feed his son has resulted in the child being removed from his custody.  Ten years after all of those events, there have been a slew of celebrities being murdered with the only clue being Zoolander’s “blue steel” look.  Zoolander comes out of hiding, reunites with Hansel, and ends up on an adventure to solve the celebrity murders and get his son back.

Did that feel like a ton of exposition to you?  Yeah, imagine being hit with all this information in the first five minutes of the film.
Anyway, I happened to enjoy the first Zoolander movie quite a bit.  It’s not great like Star Wars, but as an absurdist comedy, it holds up pretty well.
An hour before I left with my family to see Zoolander 2, the great Kelsey Hazzard from Secular Pro-Life posted this: “Sad to say Zoolander 2 was awful. Should not have been made. Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s cameo made it bearable.”
I braced myself for a painful viewing experience.
By the way, be sure to check out my friends over at Secular Pro-Life (here’s their website  http://www.secularprolife.org/).  They have great articles and have teamed up with other nontraditional pro-life groups (Pro-Life Pagans, Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians, Democrats for Life of America, etc.,) to support to cause of defending the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.
Okay, on with the review!

The Hits
In keeping with the outlandish spirit of the original Zoolander, this sequel did not disappoint.  The superficiality and randomness got many laughs from me.
The young man who plays Derek Jr. is actually pretty good.  He carried the role surprisingly well as the straight man to his father’s idiocy.  The actor’s name is Cyrus Arnold and I do hope he gets more work in the future.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s cameo is amazing!  Then again, Benedict Cumberbatch is just spectacular in whatever he does, even if it is a ten minute cameo.  You could cast him as the mailman and he would still steal the show!
I will give the movie this: While it may be random, it was never boring.  Zoolander 2 has not a dull moment.  The plot flows well and even the filler has a purpose.
I like how Derek Zoolander has matured somewhat while still maintaining his naiveté.  He has a better grasp on what is happening around him, but hasn’t strayed too far from his lovable moron persona.  Out of all the characters, he is the only protagonist who has developed since the first flick.

The Misses
In television, there’s a trope called Flanderization.  I think I may have talked about it before.  Now where did I put that?  (Looks through archives) Ah, here it is!
Flanderization is defined by the TV Tropes website as “The act of taking a single (often minor) action or trait of a character within a work and exaggerating it more and more over time until it completely consumes the character. Most always, the trait/action becomes completely outlandish and it becomes their defining characteristic” (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Flanderization).
What’s my point?  There is a lot of flanderization going on.  In the first film, Hansel’s appreciation for–how do I put this delicately?–orgies was a single gag that lasted for one scene.  Here, it’s part of his story arch.  By the third time we saw members of his orgy, those characters had overstayed their welcome.  However, the biggest victim of flanderization is Mugatu.  In my review of the original Zoolander, I said that I wished we saw more of Mugatu.  Well, this movie delivered all right…and I immediately regret that wish.  Mugatu is not only more annoying, but has upped his stupidity to where he becomes insufferable very quickly.  His voice is downright grating in the film’s climax.
Where the premise of the original was pretty straightforward, this sequel is way overcomplicated.  There are too many lame twists and loose ends are either lazily explained away or just dropped.  I think I may have said, “Wait, what’s this movie about again?” at least twice.

To be clear, I didn’t hate Zoolander 2.  If I had to choose between watching Zoolander 2 or Aloha (twitches), I’d pick Zoolander 2 in a heartbeat.  That being said, if I had seen Zoolander 2 by myself, I probably would’ve walked down the hall and snuck into a screening of Deadpool or Star Wars instead.  I don’t regret watching Zoolander 2, but I certainly won’t be seeing it again any time soon.

Saint Genevieve, pray for us.